‘JW’ in the Morning, Country 99.5 WKLB Lowell/Boston | January 9, 1998

102.5 FM Boston, 99.5 FM Lowell, 105.7 FM Framingham, WBCS, WOAZ, WVBF, WKLB, WCLB, WCVB, WSSH, WTTK, WJIB-FM, WCRB

From Webmaster Steve West – funny, the most obscure recordings I’ve posted of stations that might or might not even be interesting are right out of my own collection. I recorded this while working as a Temp at some place in Princeton, MA… some little factory that makes something I can’t even remember anymore. I was part of the office crew there. I remember my immediate supervisor’s name. Mike LaFave. That’s all I remember, except that I brought in a boombox and made a couple of recordings. This is one of them.

Here’s a fun recording of WKLB when it was still on the 99.5 frequency. As Bostonians recall, the history of Country music on FM was pretty erratic, historically the format hasn’t done terribly well there, yet, WKLB remains – the Country format is now firmly entrenched in a place nobody’d have expected it.

WKLB’s roots can be traced to two radio stations: 105.7, what was at the time of the initial format change to Country, the legendary WVBF. The first calls in the Country era were WCLB which stood for “Boston’s Country Club”. Later, there was WBCS on 96.9 (a completely different station) that launched to compete with WCLB. WBCS stood for “Boston’s Country Station”. At some point, the WCLB call letters were changed to WKLB, allegedly due to ratings confusion with TV station WCVB. Then, at some point, WKLB and WBCS merged with the WKLB call letters on 96.9. Enter WOAZ, which was a Smooth Jazz station on 99.5 (the former Easy Listening turned Soft AC WSSH Lowell). The next turn of events in Boston Country radio happened when WOAZ and WKLB swapped frequencies. That put Country music on 99.5. A few years after this aircheck was recorded, Classical Music station 102.5 WCRB (yet another confusing set of call letters for WCLB) agreed to move (with much reluctance and angst from fans) to 99.5 in order that Greater Media’s WKLB could move to the bigger signal on 102.5.

Today, that’s how it is, Classical on 99.5, Country on 102.5. And if you’re not totally confused by now, consider that there was another, suburban Country station in a place south of Boston, Brocton’s 97.7, WCAV, which first flipped to Urban as WBOT after being purchased in a complicated sale to Radio One, owners of Urban, but daytime only, AM 1090 WILD. When Entercom acquired WBOT, they flipped it to a fulltime simulcast of 107.3 WAAF and it’s Modern Rock format.

96.9 has been doing FM Talk for many years as WTTK, 105.7 has carved it’s own niche doing Classic Hits using the classic WROR calls that were once found at 98.5 and Boston’s FM dial doesn’t remotely resemble anything found there in 1980.

The full explanation of all of this can be found at The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. Our friend Scott Fybush has been involved with this from the beginning way back in the mid-90s. This link, along with This one, describe the frequency history and callsign history of WKLB – follow along as best as you can.

And since I’m lousy at explaining the confusing twist and turns of what happened to the radio market in Boston, just listen to this slice of WKLB as it was in 1998!

Highlights/Mentions: The Officer Bill Traffic Network, Louis Tiante (former Boston Red Sox slugger), Boston Mayor Tom Menino, News with Rod Fritz, Carolyn Cruze with “Country Connection”, more…